Concrete101: Pouring and Finishing

Concrete finishing and pouring is the final stage of concrete work and it’s one of the most crucial and difficult parts of the job. If you’ve never attempted finishing concrete, then you might be getting in over your head. Use this article to help you decide if you’re up to the task or if your slab is best left up to the professionals.

The Pour

Before you can finish a slab, it needs to be poured into the forms. This part of the process can tend to be very stressful and fast-paced when using a concrete delivery service. Delivery drivers want to get in and out as fast as they can, so they pour their loadout quickly. As a homeowner doing DIY Stamped Concrete Patio or any projects, it’s in your best interest to slow them down.

While time is of the essence as the concrete hardens by the second, it is easy to get ahead of yourself. Homeowners should never pour more than they can handle. To put this into perspective, it takes three professional concrete workers about four hours to pour and finish a 12×12 area of concrete. My advice to homeowners is this: a 12×12 section is the most you should do in one day with the help of five or more people.

The Equipment

Not only does concrete work require vast amounts of physical labor, but it also requires quite a few tools. Unless you already own some of the basic concrete tools, you’re going to be spending a small fortune on tools. Tool rental companies can help bring the costs down to a more manageable level.

Pouring tools are pretty basic. A concrete wide blade hoe or come along is used to push and pull concrete into the correct position as it is poured from the truck. Everyone who is working in the concrete needs one of these tools. You’ll also need a pair of rubber concrete boots to walk into the slab as it is being poured and positioned.

Finishing tools are a bit more elaborate and costly. Besides the basic finishing trowel, you’ll also need a bull float. A bull float is used to smooth out the slab after it has been a push/pulled flat with the come-along and after it has hardened a bit. Using these tools requires skill and patience as they need to be applied in the right fashion at the right time.

The final part of the process depends upon your slab, whether it is broom finished or smooth finished. Smooth finished slabs are more difficult to achieve and really require some expensive tools. A gas-powered finisher is required for a nice smooth finish like on a house slab. A broom finish has a rough surface and is used on driveways and sidewalks. This requires the use of a concrete broom that attaches to the handle of a bull float.